India

Delhi Taxi Cab Drivers are Creative

We arrived at midnight to Delhi. By the time we got through customs and had our bags it was about 2am. We had some issues with reaching our Airbnb host, so after about an hour of trying, we had to find a hotel (that’s another whole story). We exchanged some US dollars for Indian rupees, got an Indian SIM card for our phone and then got a taxi to take us to the hotel. Of course, the taxi driver wanted to know “which country from” and David and I are convinced that USA means more gullible. Once we are in the car and on the way, he tells us that the area where our hotel is located was having protests because of the pollution and the streets were closed to cars. He was not sure we were going to be able to get there. Maybe it will be okay at this hour he tells us but suggests we call the hotel. Since my phone can’t be activated for a few more hours he offers to call with his phone. I give him the number to the hotel and he hands the phone to me telling me it’s better for me to talk directly to them. The man on the other end looks our reservation up and tells me he sees the reservation and they were just about to email us to let us know it is not possible to stay there right now as cars are not allowed due to the pollution. Oh, I am thinking, we need to be challenged just a bit more at 3am and here we go. I know this is likely a game we are playing but what if this is “true”? Delhi has risen to the top of the list for most polluted city in the world and recent flights were canceled by some airlines due to the pollution. I am also aware that there are restrictions on trucking into the city and cars restricted on alternate days. David and I are exhausted after 26 hours of travel; driving to and from airports, flights, layover, etc. and not much sleep at all. I tell the hotel man over the phone well we will try to get there. He raises his voice and tells me no ma’am, you cannot come here. I tell him okay we will give it a try and hang up. Taxis man asks what he said. I told him it should be fine – we will try to drive there. I am thinking it’s worth a try since this could very well be a bit of a made-up story. I am thinking wouldn’t the person we booked with at the airport have know if we couldn’t stay there? Very nice and polite taxi driver tells us he will try 100% to get us there. He states the streets were closed today but maybe it will be okay at this hour. He tells us he will go a different way that might help to get access. But he alerts us again, that during the day there is no traffic due to the pollution protests. We know coming very soon will be that he can get us another hotel somewhere. After driving for what seemed like way too long for what was 2.4km (1.44 miles) to the hotel he takes us down a road with bright lights displaying numerous hotels (see picture above). Well it appears the roads are open and no issues noted with access. But, he points out some metal barricades on the side of the road and says, see that’s what they use during the day for the protests. I have this conflicting feeling inside that he is lying but I want to believe him. Maybe lying is too strong….maybe more like creative imagination but at our expense. We continue to drive and drive and then we are in a dark area again with no hotels in sight. He then tells us he cannot locate the hotel. He doesn’t know where it is as it should be right there in that area. David lets him know that he will be taking us back to the airport if he does not get us to the hotel we have reservations at. He says maybe the hotel light is not on but he will try going around that area again. David says he is requesting that he take us back to the airport and he says, Sir I am trying 100% to get you there I will try that road one more time. I agree and request he try the same road one more time and then we will return to airport if he does not locate the hotel. I have a feeling he knows where it is and think to myself wouldn’t calling the hotel again be an option to clarify the location? He tells us to look for it on the other side of the street. Oh…..wait there it is on the other side of the road all of the sudden. Hummm, well how about that. He shows us how the large sign light was out but I clearly see the regular sign next to it light up just fine. Again, a conflicted feeling – annoyed of his creative imagination…aka maybe lying…. and a relieved pleased feeling that he got us there. Really there is no way to know which one is the “right” feeling. India is one of the best places to practice what I preach….we can’t control what happens to us but we can control how we respond. It doesn’t really matter and there is no right feeling. I get to practice just noticing and smiling. Sometimes that’s a smile with firmness as it doesn’t mean being taken advantage of but being able to play along and stay in the game. Once inside the hotel I ask the person checking us in if the streets have been closed around here for any reason. He says no ma’am. I just have to ask a little more – so no protests in the area with streets closed? Oh, he says and smiles, I forgot, yes maybe, giving me the Indian head shake. He gives me the look like you might be the gullible American so I can continue the game for you.